Veronica Simmers - Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
Welcome to the Nelson Mandela Digital Archive Project. Our aim is to locate, document, digitise, and provide access to all archival materials related to Nelson Mandela. This is a work in progress. Here is a selection of materials arranged in exhibits for your enjoyment.
Rylands, Cape Town
It was the beginning of March 1990, a few weeks after the release of our Comrade Mandela from his imprisonment of 27 years. I was fortunate to be among the women who were invited to a meeting at the Samaj Centre in Rylands to meet Comrade Mandela.
I was very, very excited. I just had one goal: To be as close as possible to this great man when he entered the hall. Knowing that one could not single him out from the rest of the Rivonia Trialists, I just wanted to see this comrade who was prepared to die for the freedom of his people and I wanted to be as close to him as possible.
On the evening of the meeting I was fortunate to sit in the front row, next to Comrade Nomaindia Mfeketo. Both of us said we would love to have an opportunity to at least hug Comrade Mandela. As he walked into the hall towards the stage, accompanied by security guards, he was smiling, laughing and waved at all of us. I was so excited, I was happy, I felt honoured to be in the company of this great man with the heart of a giant.
As he was looking at us all the time, I decided to use body language to communicate to him that I would like to hug and kiss him. He fully understood what I said and nodded his head, “yes”
After a while as we stood up to sing a freedom song, Nomaindia said, “Ronnie, I think the Comrade wants to say something to you.” As I looked at him he showed with his hands that I must come to him. I was excited beyond words, on cloud nine. I walked past the security guards, who did not stop me. I went up to Comrade Mandela, hugged him, kissed him and told him how much we loved him. I was so overwhelmed with happiness that I was rendered speechless. I was in a world of my own as I walked off the stage.
Thank you, my Comrade Madiba, for having granted me that golden and unforgettable opportunity.
Quote: "I decided to use body language to communicate to him that I would like to hug and kiss him."
Collection: Moments with a Legend